The attorney-client privilege prevents a person’s attorney from disclosing any confidential communications "made for the purpose of facilitating the rendition of professional legal services to the client." In Texas, this is under our Texas Rules of Evidence, Rule 503(b)(1). This rule is subject to ethical considerations if violated; i.e., for an attorney, that means a lawsuit or a grievance, something that could affect your livelihood.
Before you answer, consider this exception to the privilege:
(1) Furtherance of crime or fraud. If the services of the lawyer were sought or obtained to enable or aid anyone to commit or plan to commit what the client knew or reasonably should have known to be a crime or fraud.
So, in my mind, the question becomes - Is it a "fraud" to allow an innocent person to languish in prison for many years? I believe that it is. If the attorney is attempting to assuage his guilty conscience by divulging information that is clearly a "confidential communication," then this is the only exception that might, just might, apply. The exception may help the conscience of the poor soul who is bearing this burden of knowledge, but there would be no guarantee as to a legal result if the client sued him.
I, as a criminal defense attorney, do not believe I could "sit" on this information and let an innocent person remain incarcerated for a crime I knew he did not commit. I believe I would have to step forward and suffer the consequences, whatever they may be. I would justify this disclosure by claiming, at least in my own mind, that it was fraudulent to keep silent about my knowledge. This information would eat at my soul. I could not contain it.
What would you do? If you are a regular citizen, and you had information that would clear a man’s name, you would freely come forward. If you are an attorney, it isn’t that simple. Seriously, what would YOU do?